Tara Ruane – Mistaken Identity
By Tara Ruane
I can hear the sound of a taxi screeching up the street, despite the thunderous chatter of voices coming from every angle of me. I throw my hand up violently, waving and shouting “Taxi! Taxi!” It pulled up. A tall, sallow-skinned man walked out with mirrored sunglasses, he had a pure white V-neck t-shirt with faded, blue baggy jeans. He packed my bags in the boot of the taxi and I noticed a gold Rolex watch around his wrist. I thanked him and I guessed he noticed my Irish accent. “Ireland? Are you from Ireland? I used to live there, but I came over here to the States for a job”. It was unexpected that he said he was Irish, he didn’t look or sound Irish at all. “I am, I am, I came over a week to see family”. He nodded and smiled with his mouth closed. He opened the door for me and I stepped in. It smelled like cheap air fresheners and cigarettes. H e took his sunglasses off and I saw a glimpse of his eyes. Dark, cold eyes with a look of evil.
“So where will we be going today, Mr……” “John Miller, and JFK airport please…. and you?” “What?” he said sharply. “What can I call you sir?” “Ummm… you can just call me B.C.” he mumbled grumpily. I can tell I had struck a nerve by asking him his name. It was silent for a while, until he asked me what part of Ireland I was going to. “Dublin, I’m going to Dublin.” “Very nice, very nice, I’m going to England after this last trip.” I nodded and half smiled, I found it very strange that he mentioned going on a flight to England after dropping me off, what taxi driver ends a shift in the middle of rush hour? I felt uncomfortable just thinking about it. A half an hour passed of pure silence and awkwardness, well, I felt awkward anyway. “Here we go, that’ll be $78.95”. I handed a 100 dollar note to him. “Thank you and here’s your change.” He put the money in his own wallet.
I stepped out of the taxi and went to the back. I tried to open the boot, but it was locked. I looked in through the window and I saw him reaching back to where I was sitting and put something in the visor above his head. He stepped out. “Oh sorry Mr. John, I will get those for you”. He pulled out my two suitcases and waved goodbye. I turned my back and started walking away. “Mr. John! Mr. John!” I could hear him shouting back at me. He handed me a passport, I reached to my back pocket where my passport used to be and it was gone. This passport ‘B.C.’ has given me must have been mine, so I didn’t check it. To this day, I still wonder why I never checked that passport. That was the last I saw or at least the last I thought I saw of ‘B.C.’, I was just looking forward to going back to Ireland.
My flight to Ireland had been rescheduled for an hour later than it should have been, so I had to wait about five hours until I could leave. I found out that my flight is actually a New York to Ireland to England flight, so maybe ‘B.C.’ will be going on the same plane as me. I had time to spare, so I bought a couple of magazines, had something to eat in the café and I went to the bathroom. When I was in there, I smelled glue, yeah, I’m pretty sure I smelled glue. Another hour passed when I decided to check in.
“Passport please?” asked a young blonde, no brunette woman behind the desk. I handed it to her and she opened it up. She was about to put it away but then, her eyes grew bigger and looked at it again. “Excuse me sir, what is your name?” “John Miller” I replied, finding it strange that I was asked that question. “Okay John, can you step over here with me”. Was there something wrong with my passport? Why was she calling me aside? This has never happened before. “This passport says the name ‘Benjamin Crokey’ and this picture is obviously not of you, so I want you to explain to me how this is in your possession”. I glimpsed back at the crowd of people checking in and I see him. ‘B.C.’ was there, he took off his mirrored sunglasses and looked me straight in the eye. His eyes read ‘gotcha’ and a smirk rose to his face.
I was soon dragged to security by the same woman. I was confused and terrified. Where was my passport? Who is Benjamin Crokey? What are they going to do with me? I kept thinking of my family and all I wanted to do was to get home to Ireland, when I arrived in a hall with many rooms lined up on either side. I was to go into room seven and I was forced to wait there for about forty-five minutes. A tall, strong man with black hair and black eyes walked in. I could feel my sweaty palms and my foot tapping- a nervous habit. “Hello John, Miss Jansen has told me that you had a passport of a …” he looked at a clipboard, “a Benjamin Crokey, is that right sir?” “Yes, that is right sir, but I don’t know how it got there, our passports must have been switched or something”. He looked at me with dead eyes, “and how do you suppose they got switched?” he croaked with his strong American accent. “I don’t know… no idea”. He sighed and took a file out of his desk. “I want you to tell me everything that happened ever since you left your house this morning”.
I was thinking back and I remembered that I went to the florist. “After leaving my apartment, I went to the florists to buy some flowers for my wife, then” “Tell me about the florist” he interrupted. “Well, she was an old lady of her sixties or seventies most definitely, with grey curly hair that cut just above her” “Go on”, he interrupted again – I guess he could find nothing sinister in a sweet old lady. “Oh well then, I called for a taxi and we drove to JFK” “Tell me about the taxi driver”. “It was a man of probably his early thirties with sallow skin and cold eyes – although he was wearing mirrored sunglasses for most of the time, I felt a bad atmosphere around him”. “Okay, okay, now go on”. He started to write more down in his clipboard. I went on to tell him about the magazines, the cups of coffee in the café, the strong smell of glue in the bathroom, all up to the time when the blond/brunette woman pulled me to the side and I ended up here. “Okay John, wait here for a bit, I’ll be back to you”.
Probably about an hour passed when he finally came in again. I still felt nervous, but not as scared as before because he didn’t look like he saw much of my fault in the story. “Tell me more about this taxi driver, tell me everything that happened, even the most insignificant details can help solve the case. Did anything happen out of the ordinary? Did he do anything that seemed strange, or make you feel uncomfortable?” I told him everything, I told him all about the name, the silence, the trip to England, the way her reached back to my seat when I left, how he handed me back my passport and the sinister smirk he gave me. The man was constantly jotting things down on his clipboard, he must have been very suspicious of him. “And you say his name was ‘B.C’?” “That’s what he told me to call him, when I asked him his name, he got nervous and said to just call him ‘B.C.’” “Okay… Okay… and you said that earlier you smelled glue in the bathroom?” “Yes.” “Do you know what of?” “No.” “Okay, stay here” and he left again with his loud footsteps.
Another half an hour passed and I realised that my flight was leaving in an hour, although I was doubtful if I was going to board it. The man walked in again with a smile on his face. “John Miller, you are innocent, you were simply caught up in a scandal which is all too common nowadays”. I was relieved but still confused. He started explaining the whole story to me. “Your taxi driver, ‘B.C.’ is really Benjamin Crokey, a master criminal who has been convicted with everything from robberies to drug abuse. He got nervous when you asked him his name because he didn’t want a random civilian to know his name in case police gets involved. He wasn’t planning on going to England, but he saw a free shot when you mentioned you were going to Ireland. If you’re wondering why he left a taxi in the middle of rush hour to go on a flight he didn’t even have a ticket for, well it was because he stole the taxi earlier that morning. When he reached to the back of your seat, he was picking up your passport that fell out of your pocket, and the passport that he gave you said Benjamin Crokey on it but coincidentally, the passport was fake anyway. As he was a master criminal, he was very good at faking passports and swapping photos. The smell you smelled in the bathroom was him in the stall, gluing his picture onto your passport. He thought of everything and you let it slip by without ever noticing. When you got pulled aside, commotion had risen when people saw the name ‘Benjamin Crokey’ because he was a very feared name across the America, so the real Benjamin slipped by easily without the staff giving a second look at him or his passport”.
It all made sense now, and I couldn’t believe it all happened under my nose! “I sent a security guard to go to the plane and to escort Benjamin Crokey off, don’t worry, he will be going to court. You’re innocent and I will arrange another flight for you. I’ll explain the story to the pilot so you’ll be able to board. When you get to Ireland, you have to register for a new passport, Okay?” I nodded and a sigh of relief came out of me. I was eager to get out of this room. I’ll definitely be more aware and more alert now and I can’t wait to bring this story back home to Ireland. I was handed my passport back with a picture that was most definitely not of me. In three more hours, I’ll be going home to Ireland. I saw Benjamin once more, only this time, he was in handcuffs.
Junior Cert English student,
Holy Rosary College